So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Casio Exilim EX-Z120
- Full functionality, quick responses
- Pictures not up to scratch, lacking in style, heavy
A robust camera in both design and features, the Z120 suffers from image quality problems that really degrade the quality of the package as a whole.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
With cameras gaining increasing importance as a fashion accessory, the blocky models of old often won't cut it with consumers. Most Casio cameras that have entered our offices have looked suitably modern, but the Z120 an unfortunate exception. This blocky camera also feels extremely heavy and while this may assist in taking a steady shot, it generally just makes it a pain to carry around.
Design wise is the Z120 thick, but not overly big, the weight lending it a solid feeling. It bears the brushed silver metal casing that is so popular across camera companies and sports a set of slick metal controls that are well laid out and relatively simple to use. One minor flaw is that the function wheel isn't seated in any sort of groove, meaning that it is slightly more difficult to turn than on some other models. We were also irritated by the seemingly superfluous metal ridge on the front that as far as we can tell does nothing but get in the way. The SD card slot is designed extremely poorly. We had a lot of trouble getting the card in and out, as the edges of the slot prohibit pushing the finger in too far. It may sound like a minor thing, but it annoyed us no end, as adding or removing cards is something done frequently.
The 7.2 megapixel sensor was disappointing as well. In general the Z120's focus appeared to be the culprit. In many of our shots, everything in the immediate foreground was crystal clear, but anything even remotely behind blurred, sometimes quite badly. Obviously this is the way focus is supposed to work, but it was much worse here than on other models. Objects that should have been in the foreground were not clearly defined and looked quite poor. The camera also had some problems with bright situations, with shots lacking differentiation between areas of light colour.
In indoor situations we found some of our shots had a fair amount of speckling and noise, usually generated by artificial light sources. Colour representation seemed to accentuate bright colours whilst leaving others faded and washed out. Overall we weren't terribly impressed with the quality of pictures taken by the Z120.
The camera did however score points for being being reasonably quick. Start-up time was about two seconds (which is average) and shutter lag was virtually non existent. Image write time was about a second, but this combined with the flash recharging did slow down the pace of shots after we'd taken more than a few in a row.
Functionally the camera is better still, delivering a host of features for the amateur and budding professional alike. There are aperture and shutter priority modes, but we felt really limited by the mere two aperture settings present (f/2.8 and f/4.0). Shutter speed is more robust, going from 60 seconds through to 1/1600th of a second, which is laudable for a non-SLR camera. The continuous shot function was a real disappointment, starting off at about 1.5 frames per second, but degenerating to roughly a frame a second after just three shots.
The basic shooting options are a little more full bodied, with the camera offering a massive 32 pre-set shooting modes. These cover everything from portrait to soft flowing water and cuisine shots. There are also the obligatory white balance and ISO controls, and a few handy image manipulation options including saturation, sharpness and contrast.
The Z120 also has an anti-shake function, which is becoming more common in consumer digital cameras. Generally it is a nifty addition, as nobody's hand is perfectly steady, but on this particular model it didn't seem to help much with the aforementioned blurring.
We found battery life on this model to be quite poor. The Z120 uses two AA batteries rather than a rechargeable lithium-ion cell, which always equates to poor battery life. You can purchase rechargeable NiMH AA batteries to accompany the Z120, however it is an extra expense and they still don't function as well as their lithium counterparts. We took just over 200 shots before the battery on this model died.
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